Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Time in Overdrive (Mark Schultz)

I just recently came across this old Kitchen Sink volume (1993; reprinting issues 9-12 of Mark Schultz' Xenozoic Tales, perhaps better known as Cadillacs and Dinosaurs). Having previously read Dinosaur Shaman (issues 5-8) but not Cadillacs and Dinosaurs itself (issues 1-4), I probably have no business blogging about it, but that's the way the fossil crumbles here in Village Grouchy.

I guess I'll start by simply noting that Jack Tenrec, the hero, begins the real action of this volume with a stirring cross country race between a rampaging "Mack" (some kind of ceratopsian, I guess, though my paleontology is weak), and Tenrec's trusty, (no-longer-) rusty . . . Hudson? That's right: the series may be known as Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, but maybe only because "Hudsons and Dinosaurs" wouldn't have the same kind of ring. An old Caddy always has some class after all, but a Hudson is just a gas-guzzling old dinosaur.

But seriously, Schultz's storyline (apparently continued through only two further issues; I'll trust you all to be able to find a plot summary on Wikipedia, if you're interested in plot), involves a post-apocalyptic world, some 500 years in the future, in which mystical eco-mechanics like Tenrec find themselves pitted against the "evil" machinations (pun intended, I suppose) of progress-seeking archeologist-technophiles who dig up old tech and want to use it (you can't make this stuff up, or at least I can't). This is pre-Jurassic Park, of course, though the dinosaurs are nevertheless depicted as some kind of revenge-of-nature, with which Tenrec attempts to achieve some kind of balance: but all of this (and its green, eco-friendly overtones) is pretty much submerged backstory to a strangely odd mix of dinosaur attacks and dull political maneuvering. But the dinosaurs and pretty girls are pretty, and one can't help suspecting that it's that juxtaposition, more than anything else, that gave this series life.

Anyway, if it's pre-Jurassic Park, I can't help noting that it's post Love and Rockets, where Maggie the Mechanic had already encountered dinosaurs (and even worked in a garage) in some sort of weird alterno-future way back in 1982. Tracing textual influences isn't usually my favorite mode, but this one seems worth pointing out. Or maybe it's just my luck in having read Locas so recently.

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